U.S. Department of Education Recognizes UNCW for Efforts to Support Students

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The University of North Carolina Wilmington is among 11 universities featured in a recent U.S. Department of Education report that highlights best practices in increasing college completion rates.

“College Completion Toolkit: Promising Practices for Improving Student Degree Attainment” was released by the U.S. Department of Education on Jan. 4. The toolkit highlights innovative ways schools across the country are building the systems and support mechanisms necessary to ensure that those who enroll in college complete their degrees.

The publication includes an article by Paul Townend, associate vice chancellor and dean of undergraduate studies at UNCW, and a video that showcases several UNCW initiatives.

“UNCW prides itself on caring about students,” Townend said. “The more we can celebrate that, and be recognized for it, the better. It also challenges us to improve."

UNCW has consistently strong retention and graduation rates compared to peer institutions and to other UNC-system schools, Townend added. The university’s retention rate of first-time full-time freshmen is 85 percent. The six-year graduation rate is 72 percent. As part of its strategic plan, the university has set a goal to increase the retention rate to 90 percent and the graduate rate to 75 percent over the next five years.

Officials have launched a number of new initiatives to help the university reach its goals, including the UNCW Student Success campaign, where advisors and faculty members reach out to students who fail to register and offer support.

“I think the toolkit helps us concentrate and focus our efforts, and it helps us in our ongoing developing efforts to make sure degree completion and student success are in the forefront of people’s minds on campus,” Townend said. “The challenges of degree completion cut across all areas of academic and student affairs, and if we are not collaborating and communicating, we can’t help students as individuals in ways that they deserve and that are most effective.”

-- Venita Jenkins